Mobile network ecosystem
In 2000, the Central African Telecommunications Company (SOCATEL), led by Mr Joseph Zouketia, officially launched its first ever Internet connection service for the general public. However, with the increase in Internet access licenses in 2008, mobile operators have all obtained so-called "Global" licenses for "Mobile, Internet and Images" services. The market for Internet access supplies is now open to competition with the popularisation of mobile networks on the national territory.
While no official national data has been published on Internet penetration rate since then, in 2019 SlideShare indicated on its website that about 5.4 percent of Central Africans had Internet access. Angel Telecom, one of the country’s four Internet service providers estimated instead the number of Internet users in the Central African Republic at 0.4 percent of the population.
Even if Internet penetration is mainly confined to Bangui, thanks to mobile networks, most of the country’s major cities are now connected by satellite. Four mobile and one wired Internet providers operate in the CAR. With a maximum speed of 126 to 250 bits/sec for wireline connection, and 128 Mbit/second for mobile networks, the country will soon connect to fibre optic networks as part of the regional CAB project funded by the World Bank. However, mobile phone operators, which are the main Internet service providers in the country, have been offering connections up to 3.5G via WIMAX technology since 2018 with a competitive price of CFA3,000 to 5,000 per Giga depending on the provider.
While young people aged 18-35 are the most connected via mobile phones, there is no gender-based divide in the rates of Internet access in the country. On the other hand, access to electricity is the first major obstacle to mobile networks in the interior of the country. In large connected cities, people use generators to charge their phones. This is very discouraging, especially since this alternative method of electricity is very expensive for a user in financial terms.